UFC 257 predictions — Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier: Fight card, odds, prelims, expert picks

The first UFC pay-per-view of 2021 goes down Saturday with UFC 257 from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. In the main event, the sport’s biggest star heads back to the Octagon as Conor McGregor faces off with Dustin Poirier in a lightweight battle.

McGregor and Poirier met in a 2014 featherweight bout, with McGregor scoring a knockout victory in less than two minutes. Poirier is a different fighter than he was then, and McGregor has only fought at lightweight twice in the UFC. The UFC 257 clash also carries some extra weight as the lightweight division undergoes a major transformation in the wake of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s apparent retirement.

The co-main event also features top lightweight talent with Dan Hooker welcoming former three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler to the Octagon.

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Let’s take a closer look at the complete fight card with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook before getting to our expert picks and predictions below.

UFC 257 fight card, odds

  • Conor McGregor -340 vs. Dustin Poirier +270, lightweights
  • Dan Hooker -135 vs. Michael Chandler +115, lightweights
  • Joanne Calderwood -120 vs. Jessica Eye +100, women’s flyweights
  • Amanda Ribas -330 vs. Marina Rodriguez +260, women’s strawweights
  • Makhmud Muradov -140 vs. Andrew Sanchez +120, middleweights
  • Arman Tsarukyan vs. Matt Frevola, lightweights
  • Brad Tavares -130  vs. Antonio Carlos Junior +110, middleweights
  • Sara McMann -130 vs. Julianna Pena +110, women’s bantamweights
  • Khalil Rountree -330 vs. Marcin Prachnio +260, light heavyweights
  • Movsar Evloev -575 vs. Nik Lentz +425, featherweights
  • Zhalgas Zhumagulov -110 vs. Amir Albazi -110, flyweights

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor) and Michael Mormile (producer).

UFC 257 picks, predictions

McGregor vs. Poirier McGregor Poirier McGregor McGregor McGregor
Hooker vs. Chandler Hooker Chandler Hooker Chandler Hooker
Calderwood vs. Eye Calderwood Calderwood Calderwood Eye Eye
Ribas vs. Rodriguez Ribas Ribas Ribas Ribas Ribas

Campbell on why McGregor will win: The more things change, the more they still somewhat stay the same. Is Poirier the same fighter who was finished inside of one round by Poirier in 2014? No chance. He’s tougher, bigger, more experienced and not a threat to crumble mentally like he did in the face of McGregor’s mental warfare. But even though Poirier has a much better chance to win in the rematch, McGregor’s greatest strength is still a major threat to Poirier’s chin early in this fight. Few in history have had the combination of speed, power and precision in their striking game as McGregor. Look for him to work harder, absorb more damage but still come out with the same result. 

Brookhouse on why Poirier will win: Poirier is not only a better fighter than he was in the first fight with McGregor, he’s also a smarter fighter. Fighting McGregor means surviving early flurries, and doing that requires a combination of toughness and smarts that Poirier possesses. McGregor has lost when he’s been pushed deeper into fights and had opponents meet his pace, wearing him down and creating openings. Poirier has the ability to do that. McGregor absolutely could show up and blast through Poirier, he really is that good, but Poirier also has the right combination of skills to pull off the upset.

Campbell on why Hooker will win: This fight has the potential to be an absolute war and given the stakes, there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t get there. The problem for Chandler is that he’s more vulnerable to heavy damage and is facing a bigger and more precise foe who is willing to swim in as deep of water as Chandler can drag him too. Provided Hooker can find a way to keep his back off the canvas for long stretches, this is his fight to win and Chandler will likely force Hooker to score a finish to do so. 

Brookhouse on why Chandler will win: Hooker is a big, skilled striker and that has been Chandler’s undoing in the past. Much of this fight comes down to whether or not Chandler can mix up his striking and wrestling effectively enough to keep Hooker uncomfortable and ineffective. Hooker has very good takedown defense, but even the threat of getting taken down can make him hesitate to let his strikes go freely. If Chandler can control the pace and score some takedowns to keep Hooker from getting into a rhythm, he’s going to have a successful UFC debut.

Who will win McGregor vs. Poirier 2, and how will each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 257, all from the incomparable expert who’s up more than $22,000 on MMA in the past 23 months, and find out.

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